A lot has already been said about Arsenal and the need for us to put right one of the big problems of last season, namely starting slowly. Arsene Wenger has admitted that it took the Gunners way too long to really get on a roll and although there were a lot of injury problems as well as players coming back late from the World Cup finals to contend with, everyone at the club knows that it is vital to ensure it does not happen again.
So the last thing that Arsenal fans want to hear is another possible reason for us not starting well when the Premier League season kicks off in less than a month. Our first proper game of the season, after facing Chelsea at Wembley in the Community Shield the previous weekend, is against West Ham and their new manager Slaven Bilic has issued a warning that they will have a big advantage over us on the opening day.
His reasoning is that the Europa League qualifying rounds which West Ham are due to play, which could mean six European games for them before they face Arsenal, will have his players a lot fitter and more ready for action than us Gunners.
He told Sky Sports, “It’s good for the start, definitely.
“The best examples are from your own history, not from the books, the experience you have. I only have to look at last year when we played with Besiktas, we played Arsenal in the Champions League play-off.
“We were fitter than them. We had already played Feyenoord in the previous round and we were fitter. Arsenal had only played the Community Shield and Crystal Palace and we were already in the season.”
We did only just sneak through those play-offs and the deciding goal was scored by Alexis Sanchez, who will not be available for the West Ham clash due to the Copa America and his late return to training. So how do we avoid this problem?
Well for one thing we are at home against them and we do have a few games before that to prepare. Maybe Arsene Wenger should use the Emirates cup games as a chance to get our best XI playing together more than his usual experimenting and giving the fringe players a chance.
Or should we just prepare as normal and trust in our extra quality to get us all the points in that crucial first game, remebering also that their right back Carl Jenkinson will not be able to face his parent club. What do you think?